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NY college students encourage more careful investigation of hydro fracking

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College students from around the state concerned about the natural gas extraction process known as hydro fracking presented Governor Andrew Cuomo's office with petitions to study the practice more carefully. From Albany, Karen DeWitt reports.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

The students, organized by the New York Public Interest Research Group, gathered over 10,000 signatures from New Yorkers who are concerned about potential hydro fracking in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches across the southern tier of New York State and into the Catskills.

Brendan Woodruff, NYPIRG’s Hydrofracking Campaign Organizer, says he wants Governor Cuomo and his State Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a “comprehensive” analysis of the potential dangers of the gas extraction process when it conducts an updated review later this year.

“The DEC has yet to prove that horizontal hydro fracking is safe,” said Woodruff.

Former Governor David Paterson issued an executive order last year to further study hydro fracking, and that order was continued by Governor Cuomo. Woodruff  says a previous version of the DEC study did not look closely enough at the cumulative impacts of drilling, such as where the millions of gallons of  water that’s needed will come from, and how to safely dispose of the water, which may contain potentially harmful chemicals, once the gas is extracted. He says then there’s the increasing industrialization of the predominately rural landscape and the noisy truck traffic.

Woodruff says the students also want the gas drilling companies to disclose the specific chemicals they use for the hydro fracking process. He says the recent incident in Bradford County Pennsylvania has not instilled confidence in the process. A leak of thousands of gallons of chemical laced water caused the Chesapeake Energy Company to temporarily halt the drilling. The company says there was minimal impact from the leak.

The students, chanting “no fracking way”, marched through the deserted halls of the Capitol. Lawmakers are away on spring break.

They ended at the door to governor Cuomo’s suite of offices. Cuomo also was not there, he was in Westchester and New York City on Tuesday. An aid politely took the petitions.

The original date for the revised draft environmental study on hydro fracking was June 1, but a spokesman for the DEC, Michael Bopp, says the department wants to take more time to address many of the concerns that it’s received in a previous public comment period, including the worries expressed by NYPIRG. He says the revised draft will now be released sometime this summer. After that, the public will again be able to comment for at least a thirty day period, and any new concerns will be addressed.

Governor Cuomo has said that he wants to be sure that the science shows hydro fracking is safe, before issuing any permits to drill in New York.

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